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New Report Finds that Facebook and TikTok are Approving Ads Containing Political Misinformation

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TikTok is Fast Becoming a Key Search and Discovery Platform for Younger Audiences

This is not great.

With the US midterms fast approaching, a new investigation by human rights group Global Witness, in partnership with the Cybersecurity for Democracy team at NYU, has found that Meta and TikTok are still approving ads that include political misinformation, and are in clear violation of their stated ad policies.

In order to test the ad approval processes for each platform, the researchers submitted 20 ads each, via dummy accounts, to YouTube, Facebook and TikTok.

As per the report:

In total we submitted ten English language and ten Spanish language ads to each platform – five containing false election information and five aiming to delegitimize the electoral process. We chose to target the disinformation on five ‘battleground’ states that will have close electoral races: Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.”

According to the report summary, the ads submitted clearly contained incorrect information that could potentially stop people from voting – ‘such as false information about when and where to vote, methods of voting (e.g. voting twice), and importantly, delegitimized methods of voting such as voting by mail’.

The results of their test were as follows:

  • Facebook approved two of the misleading ads in English, and five of the ads in Spanish
  • TikTok approved all of the ads but two (one in English and one in Spanish)
  • YouTube blocked all of the ads from running  

In addition to this, YouTube also banned the originating accounts that the researchers had been using to submit their ads. Two of their three dummy accounts remain active on Facebook, while TikTok hasn’t removed any of their profiles (note: none of the ads were never launched).

It’s a concerning overview of the state of play, just weeks out from the next major US election cycle – while the Cybersecurity for Democracy team also notes that it’s run similar experiments in other regions as well:

In a similar experiment Global Witness carried out in Brazil in August, 100% of the election disinformation ads submitted were approved by Facebook, and when we re-tested ads after making Facebook aware of the problem, we found that between 20% and 50% of ads were still making it through the ads review process.”

YouTube, it’s worth noting, also performed poorly in its Brazilian test, approving 100% of the disinformation ads tested. So while the Google-owned platform looks to be making progress in with its review systems in the US, it does still seemingly have work to do in other regions.

As do the other two apps, and for TikTok in particular, it could further deepen concerns around how the platform could be utilized for political influence, adding to the various questions that still linger around its potential ties to the Chinese Government.

Earlier this week, a report from Forbes suggested that TikTok’s parent company ByteDance had planned to use TikTok to track the physical location of specific American citizens, essentially utilizing the app as a spy tool. TikTok has strongly denied the allegations, but it once again provokes fears around TikTok’s ownership and connection with the CCP.

Add to that recent reportage which has suggested that around 300 current TikTok or ByteDance employees were once members of Chinese state media, that ByteDance has shared details of its algorithms with the CCP, and that the Chinese Government is already using TikTok as a propaganda/censorship tool, and its clear that many concerns still linger around the app.

Those fears are also no doubt being stoked by big tech powerbrokers who are losing attention, and revenue, as a result of TikTok’s continued rise in popularity.

Indeed, when asked about TikTok in an interview last week, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that:

“The notion that an American company wouldn’t just obviously be working with the American government on every single thing is completely foreign [in China], which I think does speak at least to how they’re used to operating. So I don’t know what that means. I think that that’s a thing to be aware of.

Zuckerberg resisted saying that TikTok should be banned in the US as a result of these connections, but noted that ‘it’s a real question’ as to whether it should be allowed to continue operating.

If TikTok’s found to be facilitating the spread of misinformation, especially if that can be linked to a CCP agenda, that will be another big blow for the app. And with the US Government still assessing whether it should be allowed to continue operating in the US, and tensions between the US and China still simmering, there is still a very real possibility that TikTok could be banned entirely, which would spark a massive shift in the social media landscape.

Facebook, of course, has been the key platform for information distribution in the past, and the main focus of previous investigations into political misinformation campaigns. But TikTok’s popularity has also now made it a key source for information, especially among younger users, which enhances its capacity for influence.

As such, you can bet that this report will raise many eyebrows in various offices in DC.

In response to the findings, Meta posted this statement:

“These reports were based on a very small sample of ads, and are not representative given the number of political ads we review daily across the world. Our ads review process has several layers of analysis and detection, both before and after an ad goes live. We invest significant resources to protect elections, from our industry-leading transparency efforts to our enforcement of strict protocols on ads about social issues, elections, or politics – and we will continue to do so.”

TikTok, meanwhile, welcomed the feedback on its processes, which it says will help to strengthen its processes and policies.

It’ll be interesting to see what, if anything, comes out in the wash-up from the coming midterms.



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12 Proven Methods to Make Money Blogging in 2024

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Make money blogging

 

Make money bloggingThis is a contributed article.

The world of blogging continues to thrive in 2024, offering a compelling avenue for creative minds to share their knowledge, build an audience, and even turn their passion into profit. Whether you’re a seasoned blogger or just starting, there are numerous effective strategies to monetize your blog and achieve financial success. Here, we delve into 12 proven methods to make money blogging in 2024:

1. Embrace Niche Expertise:

Standing out in the vast blogosphere requires focus. Carving a niche allows you to cater to a specific audience with targeted content. This not only builds a loyal following but also positions you as an authority in your chosen field. Whether it’s gardening techniques, travel hacking tips, or the intricacies of cryptocurrency, delve deep into a subject you’re passionate and knowledgeable about. Targeted audiences are more receptive to monetization efforts, making them ideal for success.

2. Content is King (and Queen):

High-quality content remains the cornerstone of any successful blog. In 2024, readers crave informative, engaging, and well-written content that solves their problems, answers their questions, or entertains them. Invest time in crafting valuable blog posts, articles, or videos that resonate with your target audience.

  • Focus on evergreen content: Create content that remains relevant for a long time, attracting consistent traffic and boosting your earning potential.
  • Incorporate multimedia: Spice up your content with captivating images, infographics, or even videos to enhance reader engagement and improve SEO.
  • Maintain consistency: Develop a regular publishing schedule to build anticipation and keep your audience coming back for more.

3. The Power of SEO:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ensures your blog ranks high in search engine results for relevant keywords. This increases organic traffic, the lifeblood of any monetization strategy.

  • Keyword research: Use keyword research tools to identify terms your target audience searches for. Strategically incorporate these keywords into your content naturally.
  • Technical SEO: Optimize your blog’s loading speed, mobile responsiveness, and overall technical aspects to improve search engine ranking.
  • Backlink building: Encourage other websites to link back to your content, boosting your blog’s authority in the eyes of search engines.

4. Monetization Magic: Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing allows you to earn commissions by promoting other companies’ products or services. When a reader clicks on your affiliate link and makes a purchase, you get a commission.

  • Choose relevant affiliates: Promote products or services that align with your niche and resonate with your audience.
  • Transparency is key: Disclose your affiliate relationships clearly to your readers and build trust.
  • Integrate strategically: Don’t just bombard readers with links. Weave affiliate promotions naturally into your content, highlighting the value proposition.

5. Display Advertising: A Classic Approach

Display advertising involves placing banner ads, text ads, or other visual elements on your blog. When a reader clicks on an ad, you earn revenue.

  • Choose reputable ad networks: Partner with established ad networks that offer competitive rates and relevant ads for your audience.
  • Strategic ad placement: Place ads thoughtfully, avoiding an overwhelming experience for readers.
  • Track your performance: Monitor ad clicks and conversions to measure the effectiveness of your ad placements and optimize for better results.

6. Offer Premium Content:

Providing exclusive, in-depth content behind a paywall can generate additional income. This could be premium blog posts, ebooks, online courses, or webinars.

  • Deliver exceptional value: Ensure your premium content offers significant value that justifies the price tag.
  • Multiple pricing options: Consider offering tiered subscription plans to cater to different audience needs and budgets.
  • Promote effectively: Highlight the benefits of your premium content and encourage readers to subscribe.

7. Coaching and Consulting:

Leverage your expertise by offering coaching or consulting services related to your niche. Readers who find your content valuable may be interested in personalized guidance.

  • Position yourself as an expert: Showcase your qualifications, experience, and client testimonials to build trust and establish your credibility.
  • Offer free consultations: Provide a limited free consultation to potential clients, allowing them to experience your expertise firsthand.
  • Develop clear packages: Outline different coaching or consulting packages with varying time commitments and pricing structures.

8. The Power of Community: Online Events and Webinars

Host online events or webinars related to your niche. These events offer valuable content while also providing an opportunity to promote other monetization avenues.

  • Interactive and engaging: Structure your online events to be interactive with polls, Q&A sessions, or live chats. Click here to learn more about image marketing with Q&A sessions and live chats.

9. Embrace the Power of Email Marketing:

Building an email list allows you to foster stronger relationships with your audience and promote your content and offerings directly.

  • Offer valuable incentives: Encourage readers to subscribe by offering exclusive content, discounts, or early access to new products.
  • Segmentation is key: Segment your email list based on reader interests to send targeted campaigns that resonate more effectively.
  • Regular communication: Maintain consistent communication with your subscribers through engaging newsletters or updates.

10. Sell Your Own Products:

Take your expertise to the next level by creating and selling your own products. This could be physical merchandise, digital downloads, or even printables related to your niche.

  • Identify audience needs: Develop products that address the specific needs and desires of your target audience.
  • High-quality offerings: Invest in creating high-quality products that offer exceptional value and user experience.
  • Utilize multiple platforms: Sell your products through your blog, online marketplaces, or even social media platforms.

11. Sponsorships and Brand Collaborations:

Partner with brands or businesses relevant to your niche for sponsored content or collaborations. This can be a lucrative way to leverage your audience and generate income.

  • Maintain editorial control: While working with sponsors, ensure you retain editorial control to maintain your blog’s authenticity and audience trust.
  • Disclosures are essential: Clearly disclose sponsored content to readers, upholding transparency and ethical practices.
  • Align with your niche: Partner with brands that complement your content and resonate with your audience.

12. Freelancing and Paid Writing Opportunities:

Your blog can serve as a springboard for freelance writing opportunities. Showcase your writing skills and expertise through your blog content, attracting potential clients.

  • Target relevant publications: Identify online publications, websites, or magazines related to your niche and pitch your writing services.
  • High-quality samples: Include high-quality blog posts from your site as writing samples when pitching to potential clients.
  • Develop strong writing skills: Continuously hone your writing skills and stay updated on current trends in your niche to deliver exceptional work.

Conclusion:

Building a successful blog that generates income requires dedication, strategic planning, and high-quality content. In today’s digital age, there are numerous opportunities to make money online through blogging. By utilizing a combination of methods such as affiliate marketing, sponsored content, and selling digital products or services, you can leverage your blog’s potential and achieve financial success.

Remember, consistency in posting, engaging with your audience, and staying adaptable to trends are key to thriving in the ever-evolving blogosphere. Embrace new strategies, refine your approaches, and always keep your readers at the forefront of your content creation journey. With dedication and the right approach, your blog has the potential to become a valuable source of income and a platform for sharing your knowledge and passion with the world, making money online while doing what you love.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos



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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

In a recent announcement, Snapchat revealed a groundbreaking update that challenges its traditional design ethos. The platform is experimenting with an option that allows users to defy the 24-hour auto-delete rule, a feature synonymous with Snapchat’s ephemeral messaging model.

The proposed change aims to introduce a “Never delete” option in messaging retention settings, aligning Snapchat more closely with conventional messaging apps. While this move may blur Snapchat’s distinctive selling point, Snap appears convinced of its necessity.

According to Snap, the decision stems from user feedback and a commitment to innovation based on user needs. The company aims to provide greater flexibility and control over conversations, catering to the preferences of its community.

Currently undergoing trials in select markets, the new feature empowers users to adjust retention settings on a conversation-by-conversation basis. Flexibility remains paramount, with participants able to modify settings within chats and receive in-chat notifications to ensure transparency.

Snapchat underscores that the default auto-delete feature will persist, reinforcing its design philosophy centered on ephemerality. However, with the app gaining traction as a primary messaging platform, the option offers users a means to preserve longer chat histories.

The update marks a pivotal moment for Snapchat, renowned for its disappearing message premise, especially popular among younger demographics. Retaining this focus has been pivotal to Snapchat’s identity, but the shift suggests a broader strategy aimed at diversifying its user base.

This strategy may appeal particularly to older demographics, potentially extending Snapchat’s relevance as users age. By emulating features of conventional messaging platforms, Snapchat seeks to enhance its appeal and broaden its reach.

Yet, the introduction of message retention poses questions about Snapchat’s uniqueness. While addressing user demands, the risk of diluting Snapchat’s distinctiveness looms large.

As Snapchat ventures into uncharted territory, the outcome of this experiment remains uncertain. Will message retention propel Snapchat to new heights, or will it compromise the platform’s uniqueness?

Only time will tell.

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

While it is tempting to try to appeal to a broad audience, the founder of alcohol-free coaching service Just the Tonic, Sandra Parker, believes the best thing you can do for your business is focus on your niche. Here’s how she did just that.

When running a business, reaching out to as many clients as possible can be tempting. But it also risks making your marketing “too generic,” warns Sandra Parker, the founder of Just The Tonic Coaching.

“From the very start of my business, I knew exactly who I could help and who I couldn’t,” Parker told My Biggest Lessons.

Parker struggled with alcohol dependence as a young professional. Today, her business targets high-achieving individuals who face challenges similar to those she had early in her career.

“I understand their frustrations, I understand their fears, and I understand their coping mechanisms and the stories they’re telling themselves,” Parker said. “Because of that, I’m able to market very effectively, to speak in a language that they understand, and am able to reach them.” 

“I believe that it’s really important that you know exactly who your customer or your client is, and you target them, and you resist the temptation to make your marketing too generic to try and reach everyone,” she explained.

“If you speak specifically to your target clients, you will reach them, and I believe that’s the way that you’re going to be more successful.

Watch the video for more of Sandra Parker’s biggest lessons.

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